When Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer came up with the concept for its E-Jet family of aircraft, the idea was to build a small jet for the regional market with a large jet feel. Today, the Embraer E-Jet family is the industry’s most successful 70 to 150 seat commercial passenger jet and is in service with more than 80 airlines worldwide.
In the late 1990s, Embraer disclosed that it was looking at building a new 70 seat aircraft called the EMB 170. The new plane would be aimed at regional carriers. It would have new wings and a larger fuselage, but would still use the ERJ 145s cockpit.
Embraer launched the E-Jet family at the 1997 Paris Air Show
Embraer launched its E-Jet family of aircraft at the Paris Air Show in the summer of 1997 with two aircraft: the ERJ-170 and ERJ-190. The planes were later renamed to become the Embraer 170 and Embraer 190. The launch customer for the new aircraft was a subsidiary of Air France called Régional Compagnie Aérienne Européenne and Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg-based Crossair. Régional, as the French company was popularly called, placed an order for ten E170s with an option for a further five while the Swiss airline asked for 30 E170s and 30 E190s.
Production of the planes began in 2000 with the prototype rolling out of Embraer’s São José dos Campos factory on October 29, 2001. The aircraft’s first flight took place 119 days later, on February 19, 2002. Given the demand from airlines, Embraer went on to create a stretched version of the E170 called the E175.
In June 2003, it became clear that Embraer was onto a winner when American low-cost airline JetBlue Airways ordered 100 E190s with an option for 100 more. The deal for the all-new 100-seat E190s was worth $3 billion for Embraer, and $6 billion if JetBlue exercised its option.
LOT Polish Airlines flew the first commercial E-Jet
The E170 finally received certification from all the relevant aviation authorities in 2004 and was first flown commercially between Warsaw and Vienna by LOT Polish Airlines on March 17, 2004. During the process of building and getting certification, the launch customer – Crossair – no longer existed. It was now operating under the name Swiss International Air Lines. Fellow launch customer Régional deferred its initial order and did not receive its first E-Jet until 2006.
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When looking at the E-Jet family of planes, we can see that they all share parts with the E170 and E175, the two smaller variants. The larger E190 and E195 are stretched versions of the same aircraft with larger wings, more powerful engines, and a larger landing gear structure. The big thing passengers like about the E-Jets is that they all feature 2-2 seating which means there is never the chance of having to sit in the middle seat. Another feature passengers enjoy are the large windows which are more significant than those found in a Boeing 787.
E-Jets second generation
In 2011 Embraer announced that it planned to upgrade its E-Jets with new, improved engines and new technology to help improve fuel efficiency. Now called the E2 family, the planes would also have new wings and improved avionics to help compete against the Mitsubishi Regional Jet. The new E2 family also features a larger 120 to 146 seat variant called the E195-E2 that can allow Embraer to compete with the Airbus A220.
As for the future of the E-Jet program, Embraer’s biggest rival is the Airbus A220, formerly Bombardier’s CSeries, and with Boeing walking away from a deal to acquire the Brazilian planemaker, it may find the going tough in the current market.
Journalist – Mark is an experienced travel journalist having published work in the industry for more than seven years. His enthusiasm for aviation news and wealth of experience lends itself to some excellent insight, with his work cited in Forbes amongst other publications. Based in Alicante, Spain.
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